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Central Washington University

Message from the President: Vaccination Requirement Details for CWU Employees

Friday, September 3, 2021

Dear Wildcat Community,

As we prepare for the start of a new academic year, Central Washington University is getting closer to formalizing our plans to ensure the safest experience we can for our students, staff, and faculty. 

The members of the COVID-19 Planning Committee and Task Force have done a tremendous job this summer helping the university address the many challenges that lie ahead. Our Executive Leadership Team (ELT) has depended on these committees — which represent most constituencies on campus — to guide the decision-making process.

One of the most consequential decisions we have made is the requirement of a COVID-19 vaccination for all students and employees. Subsequently, the Governor mandated that state employees must provide proof of vaccination by October 18, 2021, as a condition of employment; this includes all CWU employees.

In accordance with Proclamation 21.14.1, beginning October 18, proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 will be considered a qualification for CWU employment, unless a medical or religious accommodation request is approved by Human Resources. To ensure all of our employees are in compliance by that date, the following guidelines have been implemented:

  • Employees must provide to HR proof of full vaccination against COVID-19, either in person or through virtual means; further information on the process is forthcoming.
  • Employees with a medical condition or disability which prevents them from safely being vaccinated against COVID-19 may request a reasonable accommodation, as provided in CWUP 2-35-040 Reasonable Accommodation for Persons with Disabilities. An employee may request reasonable accommodation by completing a specific form for this purpose, which is forthcoming.
  • Employees who are unable to be vaccinated against COVID-19 because of a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance must submit a specific form requesting a reasonable accommodation, which is also forthcoming.

After the form is submitted, HR will contact the employee to participate in an interactive process to ensure workplace safety and identify appropriate mitigation strategies should an outbreak occur. The executive director of HR will review and make the final determination on requests for exemption in instances where there are questions concerning undue hardship or the reasonableness of the requested accommodation. 

At a minimum, any plan will require employees who have requested an accommodation, either medical or religious, to wear a face covering and maintain physical distancing while on campus, and may be prohibited from participating in some university activities.

In addition, beginning October 18, 2021, all candidates selected for CWU employment must provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or apply for medical or religious accommodation. If a selected candidate has not provided proof of vaccination or applied for accommodation, CWU will have the sole discretion to give the candidate additional time to provide documentation or rescind the employment offer.

Finally, the Committee and Task Force have recommended, and the ELT has approved, that COVID-19 vaccination exemptions for students remain in effect for one academic year, through August 1, 2022. All students wishing to update vaccination information or extend their exemption must submit their request by August 1, 2022, for the following academic year.  

Human Resources is currently preparing all of the required forms and vaccination requirement information that will be needed to comply with these requirements by October 18. Employees will be notified by HR as soon as these materials are available, at least by September 10. Please look for an email and an announcement in Central Today. Employees are asked to wait for instructions before submitting documentation; do not send HR a copy of your proof of vaccination or an ad hoc exemption request.

All of the decisions outlined above are in accordance with the recent mandate from the Governor’s Office, and they are in line with recommendations from the CDC and local public health officials. As a state-sponsored institution, CWU is obligated to adhere to these guidelines that are backed by scientific evidence as we pursue the safest path forward for our students, employees, and community members this fall.

I want to extend my gratitude to our shared governance groups on campus who have provided university administrators with consensus decisions about how to keep our communities safe this fall. If you have questions, I encourage you to reach out to your on-campus representatives.

All of us have experienced our own set of challenges during the past 18 months, but there is good reason to be optimistic and hopeful about the return of students and employees to campus. This has been a stressful time for many of us, and we understand that the vaccination requirement may be adding to your uncertainty about the future.

I want to encourage everyone in the CWU community to take care of themselves and each other, and try to show compassion for what we are all going through. If you need to talk to someone, you can call First Choice Health 24/7 at 800-777-4114, or visit cwu.edu/hr/employee-assistance-program (username: cwu).

We are all looking forward to a great fall quarter at Central, and if we continue to work together, we have a bright future ahead of us. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

Sincerely,

Jim Wohlpart
President

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